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032720OutbreakCoronavirusCalifornia and the nation have seen a surge in unemployment claims as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to close their doors, leaving workers with reduced hours or laid off their jobs entirely.

Local, state and federal governments are responding to help affected people. Here are some resources for Sonoma County residents struggling financially due to the crisis.

Residents

Paying Bills

Utilities: Salvation Army, 93 Stony Circle, Santa Rosa, (707) 542-0981. Help to pay water, electric and other utility bills. Afternoons, Monday-Friday, by appointment only.

Evictions: Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order banning evictions statewide. Renters who have lost work or wages because of the virus must declare in writing to their landlord that they are unable to pay rent. They may still be evicted if rent isn’t paid in full by the time the moratorium lifts on May 31.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also enacted a COVID-19 Eviction Defense Ordinance, which creates a legal defense for tenants who live anywhere in Sonoma County and  are being evicted due to non-payment of rent and who can demonstrate financial losses due to lost work or medical expenses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

For tenant support and questions about evictions, contact Legal Aid Sonoma County at (707) 542-1290 or California Rural Legal Assistance at (707) 528-9941. 

Rent

Season of Sharing (SOS), Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, phone: 2-1-1, https://seasonofsharing.org/covid19/. Disaster assistance with housing costs and critical family needs applications accepted through June 30. Supports low-to-moderate income families with dependent children, age 55 and older, disabled individuals, veterans, pregnant women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester, survivors of domestic violence and transitioning emancipated foster youth between 18 and 24. During the pandemic, support is also available for those who have lost income due to the coronavirus.

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, www.capsonoma.org. Visit the website for information on low-income rent and deposit assistance programs.

Mortgage: While federal financial agencies have suggested hardship forbearance for distressed borrowers, you should contact your lender if you have a financial hardship. Do not wait to miss a payment. The State order asks banks to halt foreclosures and related evictions through May 31, 2020.

Student loans: Borrowers who need immediate relief may apply for a forbearance, which suspends payments for a period of time.

Taxes

Income taxes: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended the income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020. The California Franchise Tax Board earlier extended the April 15 deadline for making state income tax payments and estimated payments until June 15.

Property taxes due April 10: The California Board of Equalization is working with the State to see if it could allow counties to provide some penalty relief if property tax payments are not paid by April 10. Each county would have to extend the deadline for its property owners.

Community Action Partnership, https://www.capsonoma.org/

United Way of the Wine Country, www.unitedwaywinecountry.org

Agencies will contact those with a pending tax preparation adjustment to correct and submit.

Other free tax filing options:

Financial Assistance Programs

Redwood Credit Union, (800) 479-7928, option 2, https://www.redwoodcu.org/coronavirus. Disaster-related loan program for current Redwood Credit Union members.

Food

See SoCoEmergency Food Resources list

Employees

Sonoma County Economic Development Board. Resources and guidance for employees of affected businesses.

Unemployment benefits: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to coronavirus, you can file an unemployment claim by phone or mail with the State of California. The State executive order waived the normal, one-week waiting period to file for people who are unemployed and/or disabled because of coronavirus.

For more information about Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19, visit these links.

Sick leave: For information contact your employer and visit https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.htm.

State disability or family leave: Disability insurance and paid family leave are part of the same program, called state disability insurance. If a medical professional has certified that you can’t work because you have, or have been exposed to, COVID-19, you can file a claim for state disability insurance. If you can’t work because you are caring for an eligible relative who is sick or quarantined by COVID-19, you can file for paid family leave. For more on state disability, paid family leave and unemployment, see https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm.

Businesses

Hello Alice, a free platform that helps businesses launch and grow, has put together a website with resources for small businesses. It's updated daily, with funding, resources and support for small business owners adapting to the impacts of coronavirus.

Federal Economic Package

President Trump has signed a $2 trillion coronavirus response bill intended to speed relief across the American economy. The package includes direct cash for many, plus expanded unemployment benefits and new rules for things like filing your taxes and making retirement contributions. Find details on what assistance it contains for individuals, small businesses, big business and more in this NPR story.
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